Synopsis of the Theory of Human Communication

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972 [1953]. Synopsis of the Theory of Human Communication. In: Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 47-93.

The human activity of communication links person to person, individual to group, and smaller social organizations to larger societal structures. Human behavior is obviously influenced by what people think and feel, and it is evident that their transactions and interactions are guided by information acquired in the course of social contact. The scientific model of communication is especially applicable to the study of human relations. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 47)
Communication unites, make common and forms a community. Semiotics seems to deal with the kinds of information that people may acquire for and from their transactions and interactions.
The communication model is used with success whenever two or more biological or social entities have to be related to each other. Where the scientist has only one entity to contend with, the communication model is less suitable. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 47)
He seems to say that autocommunication is difficult to deal with in terms of the communication model.
In the traditional, class-theoretical, Aristotelian approach, an event was grouped with other events into classes dominated by similar characteristics. The establishment of a class of events was determined by the question of regularity in terms of frequency of recurrence, and therefore the individual case had no place in Aristotelian thinking. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 50)
Another argument towards identifying individuality with error.
In present scientific systems it is assumed that change in a part involves a change in the whole and that a change in the whole involves a change in the parts. In any system, therefore, it is very important that the relationship between part components and whole be stated in terms of symbols and concepts which are characteristic of the system. It is awkward to mix concepts derived from chemistry with those that originate in evolutionary theory or to combine statements about an individual with statements about culture. In order to avoid these difficulties, a system has to be used which includes a variety of dimensions - for example, the system of communication. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 53)
And yet this is exactly what happens in our semiotics when we discuss autocommunication, for example, as a phenomena of both individuals and cultures. That is, organicism is faulty.
By definition, social science is concerned with what human beings do. Man-induced action presumes perception, and social reality is a function of perception. In the field of human communication, therefore, it has become a necessity to part with traditions of physical science. Social transactions engaged in by people cannot be treated as such but have to be viewed through the eyes and ears of a human observer. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 54)
This can make for a case for why concursive study of nonverbal behaviour is better equipped than other methods which rely on exact measuring and recording but is irrelevant for "social perception" as it is seen through human eyes.
The social context of scientific observation
Every scientist lives in a social matrix, and the questions he raises reflect the social and scientific philosophies of his time. It is impossible for others to interpret an observer's report unless some statements are available about the matrix or the field in which the observations were made. Statements about the social situation or the context in which an investigation was undertaken usually are helpful in understanding the bias introduced by personal factors, by membership in a professional discipline, or by exposure to large-scale social events. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 54)
Jakobson writes that "any new scientific or technical branch requires similar terminological reforms, adjustments, and innovations in languages of our civilization as well" (Jakobson 1985 [1967]: 105). And the Theses of cultural semiotics ends with point 9.1.0. - "Scientific investigation is not only an instrument for the study of culture but is also part of its object. Scientific texts, being metatexts of the culture, may at the same time be regarded as its texts. Therefore any significant scientific idea may be regarded both as an attempt to cognize culture and as as a fact of its life through which its generating mechanisms take effect." If these statements were put in an order it would look something like this:
  1. 1953 - Ruesch warns that scientist cannot live outside of the social matrix of communication and is thus influenced or biased by the social and scientifict philosophies of his day.
  2. 1967 - Jakobson contends that reforms in science also bring about similar reforms in language of the given culture.
  3. 1973 - Uspenskij, Lotman, et al. view scientific texts as equally cultural texts.
Though any human being or animal is, biologically speaking, a natural and practical entity, it does not follow that the human being or the animal is a useful scientific entity. To study one ant in a glass jar will tell little, if anything, about the ant's relation to other ants or about the social organization of ants as a whole. In communication theory, therefore, the unit of study is the social situation which is defined by the network of communication in which the individual is participating. Without an observer there is no scientific information. Therefore information as to social events can only be gathered in a social situation in which at least two people participate. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 54)
In concursive study the observer's point of view is that of the author, and when studying behaviour via this kind of "mediated observation", there is no need urgent for more than one person. It is relevant, on the other hand, that there be a "network of communication" in which the protagonist is a node - but actual interactions may be replaced by rememberances or fantasies.
Dewey and Bentley have in masterful words summarized three positions encountered in psychological theory. They distinguish the following levels of organization on which scientific inquiry can proceed: (1) self-action, in which things are viewed as acting under their own powers; (2) inter-action, in which thing is balanced against thing in causal interconnection; (3) trans-action, in which systems of description and naming are employed to deal with aspects and phases of action without final attribution to "elements" or other presumably detachable or independent "entities", "essences", or "realities", and without isolation of presumably detachable "relations" from such detachable "elements". In present-day psychiatric and psychological theory - and this includes the outline of communication presented in this paper - the transactional point of view has been generally accepted. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 56)
Similar to the Umwelt, Innenwelt and Lebenswelt distinction, but not entirely same. I'm currently most interested in self-action, because it seems to accord with the autocommunicative framework, but then again one can probably also interact and transact with oneself - it is probably possible to imagine ways in which these are possible.
In cultural terms, rules and laws represent the institutionalized aspects of social action, and roles the personalized aspects. In individual terms, conscience, ideals, and morals represent the institutionalized component, and the sensory-effector system represents the personal and practical aspects. Therefore, on the individual level as well as on the group and cultural levels we have to distinguish between the institutionalized - that is, the formalized and regulated - aspects of social action and the unique, individual, and often spontaneous arising aspects which are contained in the expressions of single persons or groups. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 57)
It may be a good idea to keep these apart.
Scientifically, a complete description of a social situation includes the label and the identifying characteristics; a description of the relevant rules, of the status assignment of the participants, of available rewards, of emotions which are supposed to be displayed, and of the implementations which are possible; an identification of the goals and the points of departure of social action; and a description of the premises upon which suck social action is based. These aspects, when perceived in their entirety by a participant, are closely related to what a psychiatrist calls social reality. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 58)
My "concursive typology" has, following Peirce, considered only a fracture of possible aspects - emotions (which are supposed to be displayed), actions (the goals and points of departure for it), and rules (logical or cognitive aspects of the situation).
People identify status and roles in many ways. Uniforms, lapel buttons, and styles of dressing are external marks of identification; manners, gestures, and ways of talking are more intimate marks of identification; personal introductions - "I am so-and-so" - may overtly clarify a role. But regardless of what the criteria are, in practice almost all people use the sum total of cues and clues present, including the sensations which arise inside their own organism. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 60)
These are the marks of identification I am interested in.
He will inquire into whether or not his role will force him to adapt to others, to control others, to mediate between others, or to complement the function of others. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 61)
While Ekman and Friesen identified "regulators" as specific behaviours, here "regulator" is a social role; the group leader is such a regulator. My intent is to impute "regulative function" on any form of communication, because every social act regulates the acts of others to a certain degree. Merely being present changes the definition of the situation.
In daily life, each social institution is governed by written or unwritten rules; they instruct the participants about the procedure - that is, the "what", the "when", and the "where". Rules contain directives for the participants and frequently are restrictive. In everyday communication, rules control the flow of messages; they indicate who may talk to whom, prescribe the form in which messages must be presented, and specify how long someone may talk and what not to say. The rules of communication have been laid down in written language for many institutionalized situations : for example, procedures in courts of law, civil service reports, military communications, and the etiquette of state receptions. Less formal, but nonetheless rather binding, are the rules of customs which prescribe the behavior at funerals, marriage ceremonies, initiations, and celebrations. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 62)
But rules don't enforce themselves, they have to be enforced by others or oneself. It should also be kept in mind that there are paradigmatic (known) rules and enigmatic (conceived on the spot) types of rules.
All human relations and communication systems are governed by rules; these are either handed down from generation to generation or newly created by mutual consent or by forceful imposition. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 62)
Thus Ruesch recognizes enigmatic rules, but ascribes them to either consent or imposition. Are there other possibilities?

In modern communication theory, then, such social approaches are described as multipolar phenomena determined by at least two, if not more, people. I have labeled the network of these subtle, essentially nonverbal social actions between people as "social techniques". Though the term "social technique" to my knowledge was coined only recently, by Tolman, the evolution of the concept of social technique dates back to ancient poets and philosophers. Machiavelli, for example, described the procedures of diplomacy, with emphasis upon ruling and dominating, and the effects to be achieved from these. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 63)
Damn, "social technique" is a good term.
The methods of manipulation, operation, social engineering, and social technique can only be reported by a person who is a participant. The manifest content of the messages contains few if any clues about the nature of such techniques so that only an actual participant can gauge, from the wear and tear which he experiences, the influences to which he has been subjected. Frequently a person may be unaware of his own manipulative tendencies, and only after another person calls attention to what is going on can the full extent of the operation be assessed. Social transactions frequently make use of nonverbal means of communication, and a variety of action signals are combined into intricate patterns of social action. Context, action sequence, timing, and intensity are skillfully used by the participants to influence each other. People who are manipulators are extremely sensitive to the responses in the listener, and their procedure cannot be characterized by what they way or by how they say it, but primarily by their persistently adaptive mercurialness. To attempt to characterize these rapid changes is difficult, but a descriptive classification may conveniently start with their purpose - that is, the anticipated effects which manipulators want to achieve. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 64)
Damn, it gets better and better. I should evaluate this term in light of Morris.
So far, I have pointed to some of the characteristics of social techniques. Now I should like to discuss the denotative devices that are used to describe actions and techniques in terms of verbal language. Language cannot do justice to the subtle differences in social techniques; although the English language is particularly rich in verbs and terms referring to action, it cannot encompass fully that which is actually experienced. But the study of verbs reflects somewhat the variety of social techniques which have been observed. Not all of these verbs denote interpersonal transactions; some terms denote the actions of single individuals irrespective of others, and other terms refer to the interaction of two or more people. It is well to remember that interaction verbs slightly imply the presence of several people, even if grammatically the verb is related to one subject only. The peculiarities of language often necessitate a discrepancy between strict semantic meaning and pragmatic interpretation. But a review of the words suggesting the various modes of participating will give the reader an impression of the varieties of social transactions. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 65)
And now he's proposing something like concursivity. Or, while concursive study is aimed at texts, this one is aimed at language. I have similarly mused how verbs could possibly enlighten our linguistic understanding of bodily behaviour - especially in my native tongue, this should be performed before it goes extinct!
Avoidance designates the diminution of contact with other persons or things. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 66)
#avoidance - a definition.
Play denotes the rehearsal of action with the mutual understanding that whatever the outcome the situation may be, the results are not going to have serious consequences. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 66)
Related to autocommunication as a rehearsal for communication.
Intrusion denotes the forceful thrust of a person upon another person or organization with the intent to penetrate. Inception is the opposite of intrusion; it refers to the envelopment of that which intrudes. Creation is concerned with the production of the new or not existing. Raising, developing; and letting grow are words which denote the process by which existing organizations or persons provide an opportunity for the newly created organization or person, and thus gradually give independence to that which is to be raised or developed. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 66)
I'll have to consider this suggestion for somatoception.
Information is probably the most important theoretical construct in communication theory. It refers to the fact that events going on in nature can be represented in other places and at other times. What is represented is obviously not the original event but a system of relationships which closely approximate the original event. Information may be coded outside of the human organism in terms of verbal symbols, objects, drawings and sketches, full- or small-scale models, and in many other forms. Inside the human organism, information is coded probably in terms of nervous and chemical signals. Information held by human beings is made accessible to self by feeling and thinking and others by means of expressive movements - that is, action, including speech. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 67)
Information has here a sign-like essence: it "enables [us] to treat events distant in time and space or even fictitious" (Jakobson 1985 [1972]: 90).
Information has a number of highly characteristic properties. It is always selective, much as sensory processes are always selective. The selectivity depends in part upon the structure of the end organs, and in part upon the observer who selects out of the potentially available information that which he is interested in. The observer's personal interest depends upon his purpose at that moment, which in turn is influences by previous experiences. Focusing, therefore, is an operation which necessarily results in distortions. Simultaneous events have to be perceived successively, and one can only infer that things happen at the same time. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 67)

One can distinguish between proprio-perception, -evaluation, and -transmission and extero-perception, -evaluation, and -transmission. Proprioception at the individual level consists of focusing upon stimuli arising inside the organism, evaluating such matters as fatigue, headache, temperature sensations, shame, guilt, or anxiety. Conversely, in exteroception, an individual focuses upon stimuli arising outside of his organism; he observes objects or nature, and the self as seen or heard through his exteroceptive sense organs. In propriotransmission, the messages are directed at internal destinations and are not intended for communication with the outside world; it is a rather unconscious phenomena involving primarily the smooth muscles. Muscular tension, involuntary movements, and contractions of the smooth muscles of the respiratory, intestinal, and vascular systems are examples of propriotransmission. In exterotransmission, conversely, the message is directed at external destinations, and the transmission is mediated principally through contractions of the striated muscles. It manifests itself in speech, gesture, and in other instrumental actions. Proprioevaluation is undertaken solely for the purpose of internal consumption so that the individual can evaluate feelings of gratification or frustration, make choices, and consider the need for restraining his desire for action. In exteroevaluation, it is the consideration of external events that matter, here the individual can evaluate his impact upon others, his roles, the social situation, and other pertinent factors. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 69)
All of this is the stuff of autocommunication.
At the social level, all participants are almost unaware of being an infinitesimal part of an extensive communication system. In general, people may be slightly more aware of the existence of these large superpersonal systems when they observe other cultures or when they study the anonymous messages and mass communications within their own culture. Proprioception at the societal level occurs rarely; perhaps it is limited to historians, sociologists, economists, and colonial administrators who study the broad aspects of their own culture. Exteroception is more frequent since observation of the enemy or of other nations is a rather common occurrence. In propriotransmission, the actions of the group are directed towards one's own culture - primarily towards posterity. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 70)
Proprioception on the societal level is what the student of culture does; propriotransmission in this sense occurs in what Lotman calls self-description or auto-models.
While the concept of information refers to the inside representation of outside events, the concepts of language and codification refer to the technical aspects of the recording of such information. Retention of information necessitates some imprints or traces which, when they are known to several people or to the same person at various dates, are referred to as code. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 72)
Information/codification vs message/code.
All action can function as language. Any action undertaken by an organism is a statement which, when perceived and understood by other organisms, becomes a message. Messages are conveyed by signals which as they travel along certain pathways can be conceived of as signs. A sign possesses problem-solving properties or cue value for an observer by force of its own structure and because of the attention which is paid to it. A reciprocal relationship exists between signs and signals. For example, one must assume that neural impulses in transit are rather uniform and that they probably vary only in time and intensity. The multifariousness of a human being's impressions, therefore, cannot be satisfactorily explained by the variability of nervous signals, but rather by the channeling of these signals into certain network configurations referred to as signs. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 72)
Ruesch wrote at a time when "language" was almost interchangeable with "communication".
Really unique events can only be experienced; they can never be described. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 73)
The implication for concursivity is that whatever is described ceases to be really unique, but becomes part of a certain sub-code of language or discourse (a sign-event becomes a sign-type).
Custom and tradition, and particularly language, are handed down through the ages. But the thousands of individuals who contribute towards a culture remain anonymous; for example, the architects and workers who built cathedrals and amphitheatres of the past remain unknown by name. The pyramids of Egypt were built by thousands of unidentified people - a message to posterity codified in stone. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 74)
This is eerily familiar, as if it were echoed by some member the TMS or could even have been the basis for Lotman's grand statement that culture is a message that humanity sends to itself.
While verbal language is generally accepted as a common code system in communication, the concept of silent action as codification seems to present some particular difficulties. People commonly assume that information is transmitted in terms of words or gestures; they tend to forget that the direct observation of action, for example, of a man tying his shoelaces or offering his girl friend a cigarette, is perhaps the most important system of interpersonal codification. Words and gestures stand primarily for other events; they have little intrinsic value of their own and therefore are readily regarded as symbols. In contrast, silent actions (exclusive of gesture) always have a potentially twofold function : they are an implementation in their own right, or they may stand for something else, or both. This double meaning of actions introduces great difficulties into the evaluation of nonverbal communication inasmuch as a perceiver can never be quite sure when an action is intended to convey a message and when it is intended for other purposes. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 74-75)
Did I just stumble upon Ekman and Friesen's source for "instrinsic codification"? I think I did...
A musician who wishes to play a piece of music which is new to him has to first identify the key and the clef in which the notes are written, for both represent instructions to the player regarding the interpretation of the musical symbols. In direct person-to-person communication without mediation through a musical score the same relationship exists. A person who perceives a message divides it into two parts : one part might be labeled the content of the message; and the other, the instructions. These instructions which refer to the interpretation of the message constitute communications about communication, or "meta-communication". (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: X76X)
Curiously, this notion of "key" occurs in Lotman's discussion of everyday behaviour as well.

Both sender and receiver are involved in metacommunication. The sender must bear in mind that it is his task to instruct the receiver, and the receiver in turn has to interpret the instructional messages which accompany the main body of a message. Instructions given by the sender may be explicit or may remain implicit in the situation, and the interpretations made by the receiver may or may not correspond to the intentions of the sender. The sender of a message may give explicit instructions; for example, a person who enters a room and introduces himself as the telephone repair man instructs the other people about his forthcoming actions. Less explicit are the instructions given through the uniforms of policemen, judges, and other officials; when such functionaries speak, they assume that the listener will interpret their words in accordance with the role that they have assumed. In person-to-person communication, a gesture may contain the explanation and the instructions for the interpretation of the words that are being said; or, conversely, words may contain the explanation for a diagram which represents the content. Be that as it may, consciously for a diagram which represents the content. Be that as it may, consciously or unconsciously every sender and every receiver divides the message into two parts - the content, and the instructions. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 76-77)
Thus meta-communication is not about instructions in one channel on how to interpret the message in another, only! Meta-communication also instructs about the role of the sender. In this sense Jakobson's "metalingual communication" becomes just another variety of meta-communication and it may be possible to map out meta-communicative functions about every element in the communication model!**
In many situations, instructions are not given explicitly by the speakers because the assumption is made that the other person know what they are. These implicit instructions, which people assume need not be expressed because they are shared by all, are termed "values". In any culture, the ways of communication are prescribed by tradition and are taught to the child as he grows up. The signals used to evoke in the listener the appropriate set of assumptions are usually of a nonverbal nature. The intonation of a voice, the way an action sequence is structured, the speed of presentation, and many other subtle patterns may be used as instructions. If a person does not greet another or does not shake hands when a greeting or handshaking might be expected, the omission may serve as instruction for the interpretation of forthcoming messages. A person who smokes a cigarette lets it be known that he does not smoke a cigar and does not smoke a pipe, and may thereby instruct the visitor not to smoke a cigar. Metacommunicative instructions which are left implicit require that all the participants share the same values if communication is to be successful. The experienced and mature person has a knowledge of all the implications and of all the metacommunicative shadings prevailing in a given culture and subculture. This level of functioning is rarely attainable for the mentally sick patient. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 77)
Wow. This is a much more thorough account of meta-communication than was presented in his book cowritten with Kees.
Posture, facial expression, and gesture, as well as movement of the body, convey another set of instructions. An erect or submissive posture, the deliberately formal or informal posture, the military bearing, or the stiff-necked attitude convey distinct instructions. Facial expressions and gestures refer primarily to the emotional state of the person, and these, combined with the posture, may transmit to the receiver the pompous, grave, and solemn attitude of a judge or the pugnaciousness of a prize fighter. The hurried movements of the person who is trying to catch a train, the relaxed movements of a person sunning himself on the bench in the park, the threatening movements of an angry person, the signs of greeting and farewell, and the gestures of seduction and insistence all accompany verbal or nonverbal messages in forms of instructions. Sometimes the metacommunicative messages are contained in the structure of a statement which enables the perceiver to identify from the way things are said that the speaker is a salesman or a psychiatrist, a policeman or a delivery boy. The structure of a sentence, the emphasis and the twist given, may thus betray purposely or unconsciously the intentions of the speaker. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 78)
In this account metacommunication becomes coterminous with what is elsewhere (in Mehrabian 1971, for example) termed "implicit communication".
The rules inherent in a situation likewise determine the flow of messages and constitute metacommunicative instructions. As part of the general value system, everybody knows how to behave in a committee meeting or on the football field, in the movies or at a funeral. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 78)
Here we have the "context" variety of metacommunication.
Upon initial contact in a new situation with strange people, the first thing that happens is a mutual exploration of each other's methods of metacommunication. An astute person explores another person in order to find out what sort of codes, rules, and roles the other person embraces so that the forthcoming messages may be correctly transmitted as well as interpreted. Meeting new people means learning new ways of metacommunication, while meeting old friends usually means adhering to a more stabilized form of metacommunication. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 79)
And here we have the "conative" function expressed in terms of metacommunication.

When person A emits a message, person B usually replies by adding, subtracting, compensating, attenuating, or by reinforcing one part of the message or another. The effects produced on B is thus fed back to the first person, and in a continuous process messages travel forth and back until the intent of the sender and the effect achieved in the receiver have been clarified. Either the correspondence of certain information can be established between sender and receiver, or areas of disagreement can be delineated; and if both persons know the areas of disagreement, they have achieved communication. It is well to remember that all the information a person possesses about himself is derived from others. His impression of the impact he has upon others is what makes up the picture of himself; unless a person is in constant communicative exchange with others, his information becomes antiquated, and his chance of survival is lessened. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 81)
Ruesch explicates the "making common" aspect of communication and notes the "looking glass self" approach to self-conception.
The subject matter of communication has been treated by Shannon and Weaver at three levels of complexity: at the technical level they have been concerned with the machinery itself as well as with the problems arising in connection with the accurate transmission of symbols; at the semantic level, they have added to the already existing technical considerations the issue of whether the transmission symbols really convey the desired meaning; and at the effectiveness level, they inquire into the additional question of impact and effect. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 82)
It is revelant that Shannon and Weaver included "effectiveness and impact", the missing "seventh element" in Jakobson's model.
Though all spoken word is the principal medium of human communication, all actions of human beings have to be viewed as potential sources of messages. An action becomes a message when it is perceived, either by the self or by other people. In other words, signals in transit become messages when there is a receiver which, at the destination, can evaluate the meaning of these signals. Such a definition includes communication between human beings and animals, as well as between animals. As a matter of fact, all biological organisms, including plants, receive, evaluate, and send messages. In brief, communication is an organizing principle of nature. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 82-83)
Here Ruesch includes autocommunication, but without calling it communication, but in terms of a "message". And viewing communication as "an organizing principle" of nature is another case of global incorporation, in this case even wider than that of Trager or Hall, because instead of culture, communication is ascribed to nature.

At the personal level, the focus of the observer is limited to his person, and the various functions of communication are found within the self. At the interpersonal level, the perceptual field is occupied by people. And at the cultural level he is an infinitesimal part of many people. With increasing complexity, the importance of the individual diminishes, and at the higher levels one person becomes only a small element in the function of communication. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 84)
These are Ruesch's levels of complexity. What we term autocommunication he calls the "personal level" of communication.
It is well to remember that only communication at the interpersonal or group level can be observed as experienced directly. All statements made and found in the literature about behavior at the societal level and behavior at the personal level (the patient alone with himself) are statements which have been inferred from direct observation. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 84-85)
This is another way of saying that autocommunication cannot be directly observed but has to be inferred.
In describing the functions of communication, a simplified version of a two-person communication system may be used as an example. Starting with the description of the processes of exterperception of person A, three sets of stimuli can be distinguished: first the set derives from objects and events other than persons; the second set drives from actions of any other person; and the third set derives from the actions of A which are seen or heard by him through his own exteroceptors. These three sets of stimuli reach A's sense organs; there, the acoustic, visual, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, thermal, pain, and vibratory stimuli are transformed into nervous and perhaps chemical impulses which then travel within the organism along nervous and humoral pathways. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 85)
Curiously, here we do have the classical distinction: Umwelt (objects and eents other than persons), Innenwelt (the actions of A itself); and Lebenswelt (actions of any other person).
Person A then can be said to possess information about the social situation, about himself, and about others. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 86)
Without skipping a beat the previous classical scheme develops into the Goffmanian triad (self, others, situation).
A statement emitted by A can be picked up by B; and after it has passed through the organism of B, the transmitter of B will broadcast the response to A. A statement becomes a message when a receiver interprets it. Persons A and B must be viewed as one system in which messages circulate and oscillate forth and back innumerable times. Inasmuch as A knows the content of his original statements, B's reply gives him a chance to evaluate whether B has interpreted the message the way he originally intended. If that is the case, the gradual interchange of information and successive correction leads to the establishment of correspondence of information between A and B, which state might be called "understanding". (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 86)
Neat. Above he discussed selectivity. Here, as well as above, an action or statement becomes a "message" only when it is interpreted. In this sense, anything whatseover can become a "message" as long as it is interpreted. It is neat because in this use "message" is defined similarly as Peirce's sign.

In the assessment of a communication system, the scientific observer may raise the following questions:
(1) What are the limitations and the context of communication as seen by the consensus of observations? If properly answered, this question will yield information about the physical and social reality in which the exchange of messages takes place and information on the label of the social situation, the levels and the functions of communication called for, the rules to be observed, the roles to be assumed, the channels to be used, and the metacommunicative instructions to be given.
(2) Who is saying it? Information about the source of the message can be gained by an analysis of the physical conditions of the sender, his idiosyncratic view of his social reality, the levels and functions of communication he uses, the information he possesses, and the language, coding devices, and transmission channels he employs.
(3) To whom is it said? The analysis of the destination of the message - the receiver or audience analysis - starts with an inquiry into the physical conditions of the receiver and his views about the social reality which he perceives. It is followed by an analysis of the levels and functions of communication, of the information available at the destination before receipt of the message, and of the language, the decoding devices, and the channels used at the destination for perceiving, evaluating, and responding to the message.
(4) What is said? Content can be operationally defined as the comparison of the intent of the sender with the interpretation of the receiver; the discrepancies observed form the basis of the identification of the events to which the message referred.
(5) What media of communication are used? This question is aimed at an analysis of the channels and symbolization systems used. Participants and observers study separately the perception and transmission channels employed, compare the input with the output, study the stations of transformation, the symbolization systems used, and the way in which the various sensory modalities are combined.
(6) How it is being said? An answer to this question yield information about the ways of metacommunication. Analysis of the roles assumed, the rules used, the specific instructions given, the interpretations made, as well as an analysis of the quantitative aspects of communication, furnishes information about the metacommunicative cues used.
(7) What is the result of the exchange of messages? This question is geared to analyze the correction of the information at the source and at the destination of the message, and the action which was undertaken at the source as well as at the destination subsequent to the exchange of information. Finally, one should be able to analyze the effects which action has had upon the existing communication system, its influence upon the steady state, and the possible reversible or irreversible changes which have been introduced. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 87-89)
This is the infamous "communication model" of Jurgen Ruesch, although he doesn't call it as such, but merely lists aspects for "the assessment of a communication system". Thus, when Jakobson formed a "model" out of it, he converted this methodology for the assesment of communication to a model of communication, leaving out the seventh element and replacing easily understood statements with labels and functions. Basically, Jakobson was beating a dead horse and became famous for it.
The functions of communication are to maintain contact with other biological beings and to avoid isolation - a tendency which is basic and inborn - to receive and transmit messages and to retain information, to reconstruct the past and to anticipate future events, to perform operations with the existing information for the purpose of deriving new aspects which were not directly perceived, to initiate and modify physiological processes within the body, and to influence and direct other people and external events. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 89-90)
Invaluable suggestions that should all be considered in relation with the "seventh element".
Interpersonal communication is characterized by the presence of expressive acts on the part of one or more persons, the conscious or unconscious perception of such expressive actions by other persons, and the return observation that such expressive actions have been perceived by others. The awareness of having been perceived is the event which signals the establishment of an interpersonal network. Intrapersonal communication, then, becomes a special case of interpersonal communication. An imaginary entity made up of condensed traces of past experiences represents within one person the missing outside person. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 90)
This is yet another perspective of autocommunication: an "imaginary receiver" perspective.
Exchange of information is substituted for bodily protection, and action of self replaces actions of others. Successful communication with self and with others implies correction of stored-up information. In such an ongoing process, up-do-date information about self, the world, and the relationship of self to world is likely to increase the individual's chances of mastery. Successful communication at all levels, characterized by a sensation of pleasure in the individual, is the backbone of mental health. (Ruesch 1972 [1953]: 91)
One can see the Lotmanian precept of "organizing information" ("correction of stored-up information") in this, as well as Wescott's later statement that autocommunication is important for mental health.

I am so glad I had this paper scanned as well as re-typed it back in October 2011. I knew this paper would become important for my work, and now it seems that it finally did. I can now use Ruesch to rectify Jakobson's communication model!


Post a Comment